THE MORNING AFTER…….

31 st March 2018 A Reedsy Prompt

“He woke up and all seemed normal. Little did he know that before he’d even had a chance to get out of bed, he would become the subject of a prank.”

~~~

First of April

THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE

by John Yeo

   March had stormed through to a windswept close with frost and snow combined. They say a whole generation of unwanted bugs and vermin die as a result of a harsh frost. The parents are unable to forage for food and the young die off. This is Nature’s way of culling the overpopulation and striking a balance. Extreme but effective, clearly a supreme example of survival of the fittest in action. Scooter Danes was a smallholder and a budding pig farmer, he sighed as he did the rounds of his smallholding, feeding and checking on the animals. Scooter was a hard worker, a broad-shouldered man of medium height, whose most distinguishing feature was his head, which had a curious shape with a protruding forehead that was absolutely devoid of hair. Scooter worked tirelessly to make ends meet. He was well known in the community for his sense of humour and his laid back style of leaving the unimportant things to chance.
Scooter sighed again and thought, ‘At least I can feed the dead rats and other vermin to the flocks of local scavenging crows. The vermin are so hungry at the moment they make no attempt to conceal their whereabouts.’ Scooter loosed off a couple of blasts from his trusty shotgun and picked off a few of the blighters who were busily engaged in making a meal of his overwinter greens.
  Violet, his young wife appeared at the cottage door and called to him, ‘Come inside Scoot, your meal is on the table, it’ll get cold if you don’t come in soon.’
       ‘Coming Vi! I’m starving hungry, this weather really does give me an appetite.’
Violet straightened her pink striped apron and put her hands on her extremely generous hips. She was a comely woman in every sense of the word, a typical farmer’s wife who never stopped working from dawn to dusk. Flicking a few strands of her loose greying blonde hair from her eyes, she grinned as she said. ‘ Charles from Willow tree farm telephoned to ask if you would be going for your usual pint in the Crown tonight.’

      ‘Of course, I will my darling, ‘ replied Scooter smiling broadly, ‘I never miss my usual pint of draught ale with the lads.’

    ‘That’s what I told him, now eat the farmhouse stew, it will warm you up before you go out.’

  Later that evening, Scooter joined his pals Chas, Mick, Pete and Phil in the local. They had all grown up together in the area and they were firm friends.
Chas was his nearest neighbour, who lived on the next small holding to his, a friendly man who always had a good word to say about everyone else. Unlike Scooter, who had his own way with words when he put a slant on reality to the detriment of anyone who displeased him.
  Mick and Phil were firm friends who worked for the same building firm together and shared a lot of common interests. Pete was the joker in the pack, a short man with a huge personality. A local builder, he had built a thriving business from scratch and often kept Mick and Phil in work.
    Scooter was warmly welcomed by everyone, especially Pete who was secretively grinning as he chatted with everyone.
  Scooter immediately took his position in front of a brightly illuminated one-armed-bandit and began feeding £1.00 coins in. Ever since he had hit the jackpot some months ago he was hooked, chasing money he had been piling into these machines ever since.
Pete and Mick sidled up alongside him and Pete grinning broadly handed him an envelope.
     ‘We’ve had a bit of luck Scooter, our syndicate has won a nice sum on the Lottery. This is a copy of the letter confirming the win. The cheque hasn’t been cleared yet but I intend to post cheques for the winners through everyone’s letterboxes first thing in the morning.’

    ‘The drinks are on me!’ Exclaimed Scooter excitedly, but he was a little disappointed when the rest of his pals declined. Except for Pete who accepted a double scotch and Scooter joined him in a toast.

   The evening passed swiftly and Scooter wended his way back to his cottage and was soon fast asleep.

   The next day he was up with the lark. To his delight, there was an envelope lying on the doormat. Without opening it he rushed into the lounge and hugged Violet. ‘Our lucks changed Vi! This envelope contains the answer to all our worries’.

  Violet opened the envelope to find two words boldly emblazoned across a dummy cheque. APRIL FOOL.
Scooter then realized the horrible truth, it was April 1st and he had been the victim of a cruel prank.

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

 

 

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A PANOPLY OF FOOLS

 I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to the monthly theme of Fools.

Bottom in the Dream

A PANOPLY OF FOOLS

by John Yeo
  

 

    It was a rather special afternoon at the village drama society, all the members were holding their breath in anticipation. Today was casting day for a performance at the local theatre, rumour had it that some celebrity guests would be attending the auditions. 
The play we would be performing was to be William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
 I had reluctantly joined the West Chester drama society at the behest of my dear wife Penelope, who is a regular performer. This was to be a first, I have never acted in my life before and I was feeling incredibly nervous about the prospect. I gingerly made myself known to the other members of the group as we entered, The Leering Donkey, a local pub.

     ‘Hello everyone, I’m Norman, nice to meet you all.’

There were several nods and smiles of welcome and approval from the assembled members of the drama group.

I was a bit unnerved when a tall young man came bustling up and said;  ‘Hi and welcome I’m Lawrence. Wow! You will be perfect for the role of Nick. Penelope darling! Well done; your husband will be perfect for the role I have in mind.’

 ‘Nick?’ I asked, ’I don’t remember a character by the name of Nick in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I read the play last night at home!’

Lawrence smiled and said, ’Don’t worry Norman, the character you have been selected for has an important role to play! I think you will be perfect for the role of Nick Bottom. A very sought after role indeed!’

’BOTTOM!” I exclaimed: “You mean the character with an Asses head. The fool?’

 ’Norman this is not just any old fool you will be playing here! Bottom is a very important fool. Out of all the panoply of Shakespeare’s fools Bottom is the finest. I think this role could be the start of a well-revered career: Bottom was one of the leading performers in the Mechanicals. I think you will be perfect for this part. Am I not right Penelope darling?’

 ‘Are you mad? I refuse to get involved with this! Anyway! Who do you think you are calling darling? That’s my wife you are addressing.’ I said, becoming quite annoyed by the sly inferences of this toffee-nosed twit.


   ’Just a theatrical term lovey. It’s a great pity; Won’t you change your mind? I think you would be perfect for the role; I’m sure you would look exactly right playing the character with an asses head.’

 ’Clear off!’ I said walking out of the pub.
 One month later Lawrence and my wife Penelope had set up home together. I swear if I ever wake up from this horrible dream, I will get my revenge.
 Wait until he finds out that Penelope is part Mexican and suffers from Montezuma’s revenge whenever there is a certain variety of food on the table.

 

  Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved


OSWALD ISLAND

A REEDSY PROMPT

You are an explorer who’s just discovered a new island.’

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OSWALD ISLAND

by John Yeo

   The press conference was well attended, with representatives from several of the national newspapers and a few reporters from regional papers.
There was a presentation of sketches and photographs on display of a substantial rocky landmass located in a sunlit sapphire sea. There was a large indentation in the centre that was a natural lake with a channel leading to a bay that formed a natural harbour.

‘First things first Ladies and Gentlemen of the press. My name is Captain Oswald, I own that luxury yacht moored in the harbour. We have just returned from the Indian Ocean, where my island is located.’

Mike Molloy, an ebullient Irish reporter employed by the Daily Torment, a national tabloid newspaper. ‘You are referring to this discovery as your island
Captain? How can you lay claim to an island for yourself. Surely you should be claiming it for the nation?’

‘My friend I have discovered this paradisiacal island, exactly 101 miles off the coast of Tango, located in the South Pacific Ocean. Even now as we speak several members of my crew are in residence guarding my property. I have laid claim to this new land and I propose to sell shares to anyone interested in the future development of my land.’

There was a sudden loud general hubbub as questions were fired at Captain Oswald, a short, stocky man with a shock of sandy coloured hair.
A large familiar-looking man raised his hand and shouted.
‘Peter Swinburne, from the Daily Scare. Supposing you are overruled by the government of Tango and the island is confiscated. How do your investors know they will be able to get their money back?’

‘Mr Swinburne, my word is my bond and I guarantee to refund all monies that will have been invested in my property. I have the financial backing of a leading worldwide firm in the futures investment industry. This will be a first class investment with the minimum of risk. I have been assured by a member of the Tangoan government that this new island is just outside their territorial boundaries and is open for development. I have agreed to allow the Tangoan government a full half share of any future profits.’

Another voice shouted a question, this time it was a lady reporter. ‘Geraldine South, from the Seaview Independent local paper. I would like to know how much of these future profits will be invested locally in these Isles.’

Captain Oswald smiled and replied. ‘There is no question that this government will receive substantial funds in exchange for protection from marauding pirates and gangsters. I have been assured this is possible and a feasibility study is underway as we speak. Of course the bulk of our trade will be with tourists and businesses from here. Holidaymakers will flock there, the ultra-wealthy will build their homes there.’

A tall distinguished looking man then stepped up and said,
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, I have to bring this press conference to a close now. I am a lawyer representing Captain Oswald. I would appreciate it, if all further questions could be directed to my office. I propose to leave a pile of my address cards at the back of this hall.

The next few weeks were exciting as far as Captain Oswald was concerned. Money was flooding in from interested investors as speculators queued to get a piece of the action. The funds were quickly channeled into building projects and advertising.

Captain Oswald had returned to his island and made the trip back several times. He now worked from a plush office in the centre of the financial hub of a city on the mainland.
When the first warnings started to come through, Captain Oswald was attending a plethora of meetings with his new partners and the banks.
The first newsflash was seemingly insignificant, just a suggestion that there was a hurricane due to touch the coastline of his private island.
The news came through as Captain Oswald had a meeting scheduled with the press to announce a public naming ceremony of his new island. Unsurprisingly the island was to be named Oswald island and would be officially recognised by all concerned.

The reports of the power and devastation caused by the hurricane in the South Pacific Ocean became more and more alarming. The weather forecasters had named this powerful storm, Hurricane Esmeralda, a name that would forever be indelibly imprinted on the mind of Captain Oswald.

Within days the Captain and his crew were travelling at full speed towards the Tango islands in the South Pacific following a spate of reports of the devastation and the loss of life caused by Hurricane Esmeralda. There was a lack of news after a while due to the power lines that had been severely damaged by the storm.
Several days later they were approaching the point where Oswald Island was located but to the horror and surprise of the Captain there wasn’t any sign of his island.

Captain Oswald screamed to his first mate, ‘Barnicle, where’s the island?’

‘I dunno Captain, it should be right in front of us.’

‘Have you got the right coordinates man?’

‘Yessir! Positively Sir.’

It took a few seconds for the dreadful realisation that Oswald Island was gone and would never be seen again. Washed away and destroyed by Hurricane Esmeralda, the island was now at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
The Captain took this discovery surprisingly philosophically.

‘Well life’s a gamble, they say things come and go, Nature provides and Nature takes away. C’mon Barnacle, head for Tango, I need to cash in my chips.’

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I wrote the following piece of Flash Fiction for our Church magazine in response to the monthly theme of Lambs.

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

by John Yeo

   The lake is still at sunset after the wildfowl and the birdlife have gone to roost. Silence replaces the noisy squabbling of the gulls and ducks for food and personal space. Darkness is descending on the shrubs and trees around the banks of the lake as the sun disappears. Nocturnal wildlife will soon be appearing. Owls will be spreading their wings and will be heard hooting in the near trees as they venture out on their hunting forays after dark. Bats can be seen fluttering and searching for insects, using echolocation their powers of ultra-sensitive hearing for guidance. Foxes will soon be on the prowl searching for small mammals in competition with the local neighbourly domestic tomcats who have their own territories to patrol.

    It’s lambing time on the farm that borders the lake and Farmer Wrigglesworth and his wife Lilian have been hard at work all day, with their son James. Lambing is hard work and the family has to endure long hours working from dawn to dusk in the lambing sheds. It’s after dark when danger rears its ugly head in the shape of the nocturnal predators that are always on the prowl. There are just a few predators on sheep these days, foxes, badgers, and large predatory birds, mainly from the crow family. Farmer Wrigglesworth is unable to afford to hire a shepherd to look after the sheep at night and it’s too expensive to permanently keep his whole flock in the lambing sheds. There are electric fences around his two fields designed to go some way to keep the predators at bay. Sadly there are always casualties but on balance, the majority of the new lambs survive.

   Another threat to the smooth running of his business takes the form of human intervention in the form of animal rights organisations. There had been threats from a group in the vicinity recently and there had been an instance of the electrified fence getting tampered with last year. A man had been shocked and the local police had managed to trace him through the local doctors surgery. There was never any proof, even though he was a member of a certain organisation.

  Farmer Wrigglesworth had his own personal views on the meat industry. ‘We work our socks off raising sheep that feed millions of people. The sheep are specially bred to fulfill this function and would never survive in the natural world without our help.’

  Dawn broke with a cacophony of bird calls from around the lake. Farmer Wrigglesworth and Tom were up in the early hours in the lambing shed, Tom was expert at helping the ewes give birth. Over the years he had faced many experiences at lambing time and Farmer Wrigglesworth was extremely proud of his veterinary trained son’s expertise. Tom’s iodine stained hands had saved countless lambs and ewes from a painful death.

   Farmer Wrigglesworth left Tom in the lambing shed and took a walk to his fields with Shep, his trusty sheepdog.

  Shep raced ahead and discovered the grisly remains of two lambs, he was soon barking loudly to alert his master.

  The farmer shook his head sadly, ‘Shep I, must take steps to try harder to control these predators next year.’

  Later in the farmhouse, Lilian produced a large English breakfast for both men who had been up and about hard at work for hours. There had been another telephone threat from an unidentifiable caller purporting to be from an animal rights group.

    ‘Tom we are hated by the few and we feed the many. The jury is out and will always be out on the ethics and morality of how we earn our living.’  Sighed Farmer Wrigglesworth,

‘Meanwhile, let’s get going we have our flock to take care of.’

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Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

 

SNOWBELLS

This is a piece of Flash Fiction for our church magazine, in response to the theme of Bells.

Bluebells

SNOWBELLS

by John Yeo

   The afternoon had been warm and sunny as Peter and Rosie happily wandered through the green fields and lanes that ran around the outside of the village bordering their Father’s farm. Peter dragged his younger sister along by her hand. At eleven years old, Peter was two years older than Rosie and he was expected to look after her whenever they went out together. There was no mistaking they were siblings, both of the children had a shock of black hair and unusual piercing blue eyes.

    ‘Don’t pull me so hard, please Pete, you are almost pulling my arm off.’

   ‘Sorry Rosie, but it’ll be getting dark soon and Mum wants us to be home.’

Suddenly as they got close to the woods, the evening sunlight reflected off a sea of blue and green that stretched deep into the woods.

     ‘Look Pete, beautiful Bluebells. Oh, please let’s pick a bunch to take home to Mum.’

At that moment two Magpies began chasing each other in the low overhanging branches on the nearby trees.

    ‘Two for Joy,’ shouted Rosie happily.

   ‘OK Rosie, good idea! They won’t be angry if we take them some flowers.’ Peter replied, he knew his sister would be upset if he said, No!

They soon began to pick armfuls of Bluebells to take home. Suddenly, there was a rustle at the far end of the glade as a Brown speckled Doe, dashed for cover. This made them both jump, as the sudden noise took them by surprise.

  Peter nervously said, ‘C’mon Rosie, it’s time to go home now.’

   ‘OK, Pete’ replied Rosy.

The children soon reached the ramshackle collection of buildings that surrounded the cosy farmhouse. As they arrived, Trusty the farmhouse guard dog barked loudly, overjoyed to see them both. Their Mother appeared looking quite worried, her expression softened, immediately, when she saw the Bluebells.

   ‘Come in quickly, you two! Your Granddad is here and he has been waiting for you for ages.’

  ‘OK Mum,’ said Peter.

As soon as their Granddad saw the Bluebells he said,

‘Have you two heard the legend about Bluebells?’ he asked with a smile.

‘Well, some years there are White coloured Bluebells among the Blue ones like you have here. This means there is bound to be a White Christmas coming up and if you listen carefully sometimes these special Bluebells actually ring when they are tossed by the wind.’

‘Oh! Come on Grandpa. How can flowers make a noise?’

Granddad smiled as he said, ‘Ah! You have to listen carefully and believe, if you want to hear the music of the Snowbells.’

White Bluebell

 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved

BLISSSFUL BLASPHEMY

A prompt response for Master Class ~ Assignment ~ Blissful blasphemy

http://ourwriteside.com/category/prompts/master-class/

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Blissful Blasphemy

by John Yeo

   Horace stumbled as he entered the local bar and nodded to the landlord.

        “You OK mate?” enquired the landlord anxiously. “You seem to be a bit unsteady on your feet! Careful there Sir. What can I get you?”

Horace spat on the wooden floor and glared at the man behind the bar.

        “I’m OK, I tripped over your bloody carpet. I’ve half a mind to sue your establishment.” was the aggressive retort.

  Horace opened his grubby raincoat to reveal a mud-splattered pair of trousers tied up with string around the waist. He pulled a paper bag from his pocket and removed a bundle of notes, peeling off a tenner, he placed it on the bar and said, “Get me a beer.”

  It was then the landlord was overcome with the odours emanating from Horace’s clothes. Stale beer mingled with many other questionable smells that put him in mind of a refugee from a pig farm.
Two or three other customers in the bar instinctively moved to one side as this horrible odour arose and wafted around the bar.

      “Phew!” exclaimed Alphonse the local car dealer, to his glamorous wife Estelle.
“Drink up my love, let’s get out of here before we catch something nasty. I really don’t know what this place is coming to.”

The landlord then interrupted and addressed Horace, quite bluntly.

      “Get out of here you stinking freak! I refuse to serve you. You are already pissed out of your head.”

At this, Horace let rip with a tirade of curses and threats, beginning and ending with the questionable birthright of obnoxious barstewards.

Alphonse said to his wife Estelle. “Come on darling. Let’s go, we don’t have to put up with this tirade of blasphemous language.”

Then, a voice from the corner of the bar that seemed to come from behind a cloud of smoke piped up.

      “When cursing or profanity is uttered colloquially, it is a sin that can be forgiven as a common sin against decency. Punishment should be meted out in response to the level of harm done.”

The landlord then turned and addressed the stranger in the corner.

      “Father if I put a boot up this filthy mouthed drunks rear as I eject him from the premises, will this be punishment enough for his insolence?”

   “Allow me to speak to the gentleman, I’d like to get to the bottom of this.” Responded the Priest.

     “Go ahead.” said the landlord, “As long as you get rid of him for me.”

      “Excuse me, Sir, I feel you have many problems to be resolved. I noticed your obvious wealth when you left that money on the bar. I would like to offer you a drink of tea at the rectory and a chat.”

With a snarl and another tirade of the vilest blasphemy that had ever come close to assaulting the ears of the Priest. Horace staggered out the door, followed by the landlord who landed the sharpest boot up the oblivious tramps rear end.

A few days later a letter arrived from a firm of city lawyers, containing a summons for the landlord to answer charges of common assault on one Squire Horace Batchelor.

The Priest wasn’t surprised at this turn of events as he was heard to mutter to himself. “Blasphemy can sometimes lead to a state of blissful serenity brought on by the proceeds of ill-gotten gains .”

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.

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THE AFTERMATH

The Aftermath 

by John Yeo

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The four walls of a large empty house, can be dreadful to a lady of quality. Since the Admiral had passed on to the high seas of the unknown, his good lady was left high and dry, as it were. Elspeth was terribly upset and it was several months of wearing the required mourning black, and privately drowning her feelings in waves of tears, before she was able to begin to socialise again. Her two children and their families had been wonderful, rallying around and visiting her sporadically, but over the months the visits became more and more infrequent. Then the terrible, shockingly unbearable, loneliness, began to set in. Every knock at the door of the large four bedroomed, detached house, set well back from the road, sent a jolt of expectation resounding through her very being.

 Elspeth missed Admiral Theo, her dearly beloved husband, tremendously; she missed the sociable rounds of meetings with the officer’s wives and the pomp and ceremony of the Naval get-togethers.

  Elspeth wasn’t strictly a religious person. Devout in her own unique way, she would attend church when the need arose. This always seemed to coincide to the times when her feelings of abject loneliness began to take hold and she needed to reach out for human contact.
 The fact was, Elspeth was on the verge of an unmentionable solution to her myriad problems of lonely heart wrenching solitude. 

 One Sunday, a new face appeared in the pews of the fairly isolated village church and a lady dressed in dramatic black arrived alone. Elspeth immediately approached and introduced herself, sensing a kindred spirit.
  “Hi! I’m Elspeth: You’re new here. A warm welcome to you, come and join me on my pew. We must have a chat after the service. They serve a wonderful cup of tea here.” 
     “Oh! Of course. Thank you so much, I would like that it will be so nice to have someone to talk to. I’m Gill, I have downsized our house and I have moved into a cottage along Honeysuckle Lane.”
     “Welcome Gill.” whispered Elspeth, At that moment the Priest led the choir down the aisle to commence the service.
 Elspeth’s mind was racing during the service, she sensed a friendship forming that could blossom into something that could change her life, rescuing her from the intolerable loneliness she had endured recently.
  The two ladies met and conversed intimately after the service. Finding they had a great deal in common, Gill said.

       “Why don’t you come and have some lunch? You will be welcome to join me before I leave.”
 Elspeth instantly agreed, however her face fell when her new found friends words sank in and she realised the implications.
      “You are leaving!” She interjected quickly. “”Already, it seems you have just arrived. Where are you going?”
       “Oh! I’m going on a long sea cruise to the Caribbean, I don’t believe in letting my sorrows overwhelm me. I intend to take the bull by the horns and live life to the full! We only buried my poor darling, Henry a month ago and it has been such a rush moving house and now getting ready for this cruise. Henry and I talked about going on a cruise a year ago and I know he will be with me in spirit all the way.”
  This stunned Elspeth to the core. ’A cruise! I hadn’t thought of anything like that.’ she mused…. 

Then she thought, ‘Dare I? What would people think of me if I suddenly announced I was off on a cruise? What about the children and my adorable grandchildren? Rags, my faithful four-legged friend is bound to miss me.’ 
Then she was about to speak, when Gill suddenly said.

     “Why don’t you join me? I am sure the cruise line could find room for you. They have some spare cabins and we don’t leave for a couple of weeks. Plenty of time to make some fast arrangements.”
       “Wow! Let me think things through Gill, I’m tempted to say yes straight away. Anything to get away from this lonely life, however I must speak to the children, although I don’t see much of them these days.”
    “Sure thing.” replied Gill. “Look,” she continued. “I’ll phone the cruise line and see if they will fit you in, I’m sure they will. You speak to your family, and if you are ready. Let’s go and have some fun.”
   Finally these two new friends, who had hit it off so well from the start accompanied one another on that first sea cruise together. Thus began the many highs and lows and scrapes and narrow escapes of our two sailing friends who traversed the world on the high seas together. 

Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.